gymnastics

My niece, Kayla Stevens is a great mom to the daughter that she and my nephew, Garrett Stevens share. Elliott will be 4 years old on August 3rd, and she will become a big sister just a few days from now. The really nice thing for Kayla with this new baby is that she works from home. While Elliott goes to daycare, because Kayla’s job is such that having an older child at home during working hours is not feasible, having the baby at home will be ok, probably for the first year or so anyway. That will be a wonderful bonding time for the two of them too. By then, Elliott will be in school, so Kaya and Garrett will still only have to have one child in daycare, which is nice, considering the cost of daycare. We are all excited for their coming little addition, and they are busily getting ready.

Kayla is social worker with the Veterans Administration in Sheridan. I can’t think of a more caring person for our veterans. She has found that her work with the Veterans Administration has truly been fulfilling. When she first started working as a social worker, she was on the substance abuse team at the Wyoming Mental Health Team, which I think was probably the hardest of her positions. Later she was moved to the child and family team, which I really thought she would stay with. I think the Lord just had better plans for her, and her work with the Veteran’s Administration has shown that to be true. Our veterans deserve caring people, like Kayla, to help with their needs,

Kayla’s may life work, however, will always be her family. She loves spending time with her daughter and husband. They go to the park, and Elliott delights them with her antics. She is a smart little girl and is always showing them what she can do. They have her in swimming and gymnastics, and she is always wowing them with her tricks. Being a mom is probably the greatest blessing Kayla has ever received, and becoming a mom again is just as awesome. I can’t believe how close the date is getting, and I can’t wait to meet baby Stevens number two. I love that Kayla is so good about sending me videos and pictures of Elliott’s life and activities. It is hard when these kids live in a different town, but she makes it easy to be a part of their lives…and I very much appreciate that. Today is Kayla’s birthday. Happy birthday Kayla!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand niece, Aleesia Spethman is a very busy girl, with many interests. She has three older brothers, Xander, Zack, and Isaac, all of whom are in football, but lets face it, football is just not for Aleesia. Aleesia is in gymnastics, and really enjoys it. There are a number of family members who have taken gymnastics, so I think Aleesia comes by her talents honestly. In the summer, Aleesia love to so swimming, especially if a water slide is involved. Her parents, Steve and Jenny Spethman try to take the kids to Rapid City to the water park at least once a year.

Since Covid-19 closed the schools 2½ months early this year, Aleesia found herself in the same boat as so any other students…home schooling. Aleesia did not enjoy home schooling. She thought it was very boring sitting in front of a computer at the dining room table. I think many of the students felt that way, but then home schooling was not what anyone had planned for this school year, and to have it happen 2½ months before school was supposed to get out, threw everyone into a bit of a tailspin. While Aleesia did not like home schooling, she did like having the extra time with her brothers. It was a rare treat for Aleesia to get to spend so much extra time with her brothers.

This year has been different for Aleesia in a number of ways. Because her mom got a part-time job, Aleesia went to camp. She went to camp, because daycare is for babies, as we all know. That was a little hard on both Aleesia and Jenny, because they are best friends. They love doing things together. It doesn’t matter what they are doing, shopping, taking a walk, playing, or just watching television.

Aleesia got to have a birthday party with her friends this year, and that is unusual for her, because having her birthday in the summer often prohibits the friend birthday party that so many people get. The lack of travel this year kept many people at home and that made all the difference. I’m very happy for her. Today is Aleesia’s 8th birthday Happy birthday Aleesia!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

12742348_10208513107568216_4472158606894877096_nNot every person in a family is related by blood…or even by marriage. Sometimes, a lifelong friend is, in reality, as close as family. Such is the case with Burl Ford. Burl was one of the neighborhood kids that my mother, Collene Byer Spencer and her siblings played with as children. The first time I heard that they had been childhood friends, I was amazed, because by that time, we were living just down the street from Burl and his family, and in fact we were all friends, with them and their kids. Burl’s kids, Lisa, Susie, Burly, and Judy, were all in gymnastics, and his wife, Thea had learned how to coach and spot for the tumbling. So when my younger sisters and I were at their house, the natural next step was to do tumbling in their basement. It was Thea who instilled in me, the love of gymnastics, which I continued doing through high school.

Cheryl remembers playing Jacks on the patio in their back yard with Burl. That is an unusual thought, because Jacks was primarily a girls game…at least in school. Burl didn’t care about that. He loved kids, and playing with his kids and the neighbor kids 16387182_10202403016154753_4437392044467414144_n[1]was totally within his nature…and in fact, growing up was totally not in his nature. Burl was a kid all his life. And…Burl loved his pranks!! I suppose these days he might have found himself in trouble, but those were different times. One prank, in particular, that lots of their family friends remember is the cherry bombs. In those days, kids could safely have sleep overs in someone’s back yard. The Ford’s back yard had a slight slope to it, and made for a perfect sleep over spot…in theory. You did have to take Burl into account. He would wait until we were all settled out there sleeping, and out of the blue, in the middle of the night…a cherry bomb would go off. Burl was careful of course, and never threw it near anyone, but it was something that definitely got your attention.

Today, we said goodbye to Burl…all of his friends and family. It was a beautiful service filled with happy 16299244_10202403012874671_3342523734846440219_nmemories, and yes, the shedding of tears. Thea’s sisters reminded us of his love of sports, including the Broncos and the Colorado Rockies, as well as the Super Bowl games he got to attend, and throwing out the first pitch at a Rockies game. They told of his love of fishing, camping, snowmobiling, golf, travel, and precious time spent at their mountain cabin. And they told us about the many pranks and his bag of tricks. Burl was a member of the Oil City Slickers and Gentleman’s touch, both barber shop musical groups. The group sang at his service, and it occurred to me that, while the songs were beautiful, there was one voice missing. Those were wonderful memories, but it was something the minister said that particularly struck me as amazing. As he told of his last visits with Burl, and many before that, he said that the one thing he noticed was that Burl was always so happy and full of life. Then, he said that he wished that he could take some of Burl’s happy, joyous spirit and zest for life, and throw it out into the world. Instinctively, I thought…just pack it in a cherry bomb.

Pick me UpDog PileWhile we were visiting many of our family members in Superior, Wisconsin and Duluth, Minnesota, our cousin, Bill Spencer surprised us with a copy of a slide show that he had put together for his family. We were so busy while we were there, that there was no time to take a look at the slide show. When I got home, I looked at it briefly, but nothing really in depth. Yesterday, I took another look…a longer look. I had no idea what a gold mine that slide show would turn out to be. As I watched it, I felt like I had been instantly transported back in time. It was so fun to look at those old shots of all of us as kids. It also felt just a little bit lonely when I looked at holiday pictures from the time right after we left Superior. Prior to that, we would have most likely been in some of those pictures, and I’m sure that my cousins would agree with me when I say that feels a little bit sad too.

Cheryl and Pam had always been good friends, and the younger kids naturally partnered with Bill and Jim. That could have left me feeling like a third wheel, but I got along just as well with the younger kids, so it worked out very well. The reality was that I thought the stuff the younger kids were doing was more fun most of the time anyway. Not to say that I wouldn’t have wanted to spend time with Cheryl and Pam, but I was a pretty active kid. and the rough housing that the younger kids and I did was quite appealing to me. In fact, I probably instigated much of it…if not all of it.

I was really into gymnastics, with tumbling being my favorite part of it. My sisters and I used to practice our tumbling on the front lawn, so it stood to reason that we would do that when our cousins were there too. We practiced things like cartwheels, hand springs, and touching our toes to our head…which turned out to be a little difficult for my cousin, Jimmy, try as he might. And believe me, his trying was pretty funny. I don’t know if he really thought that he could pull his legs up to his head with his hands, but believe me, you can’t do it. Either you are limber enough, or you aren’t. It’s as simple as that.

The younger kids would do their best to gang up on me, to prove their superiority…or maybe it was just the mere number of them against me, or maybe they had a little help from Aunt Doris. Whatever the case may be, sometimes I found myself out numbered. Of course, it was all in fun, and we had such a good time when they were here or we were there. Just looking at the picture of the dog pile makes me smile. All I can say, is that I’m glad I didn’t have all those kids on top of me. I would have been squished for sure!! What crazy, fun times those were.

Seeing my cousins this summer, took me back to those carefree days. Sometimes, you get used to being away from those you love, and you somehow don’t realize how much we miss those times, until we go back for a Head to ToeUpside Downshort time. Then, the memories flood back in. You talk for hours about all the old times, and you suddenly realize just how much you have missed those times. Nevertheless, time has marched on, and you can’t go back to when you were young. All you can do is try to keep the memories alive in your memory files, and pull them out once in a while so you can relive those moments. Those days are gone, but the memory lives on to remind you that those were the days, and they were great. Childhood is but a fleeting moment, but those days will always be a part of who we are.

Siara & Chantel Christmas 2012As our trip to Washington winds down, we find ourselves in Great Falls, Montana where our newest college girl is attending the University of Great Falls. Siara is a cheerleader for the Argonauts. This is her first year of college, and the first time away from home. When she left Casper, she seemed like such a little girl still, but when she was home at Christmas, I was surprised at how much like an adult she now seemed. I guess that is normal, when kids get out on their own for the first time, but more so I think when they get married or go away to college. They have to rely on themselves for everything for the first time in their lives, and that changes a person.

Like most college kids, whose hours are long during the week, and late on the weekends, CheerleadersSiara’s favorite thing to do is sleep. She is up by 5:30 three mornings a week for cheer practice, and also has several exercise classes she must attend to stay limber, and keep in shape for all the moves that cheerleaders do these days. As most of us know, cheerleading is now half gymnastics and half cheering. After a very early practice, Siara and some of her teammates hit the cafeteria for a good breakfast. Siara tells us that breakfasts at the school are amazing. That’s important after a workout, because I would imagine they are starving.

Siara’s class schedule is, in my opinion, pretty perfect, because while she has a heavy schedule, all the classes are scheduled from Monday through Thursday, so every weekend is a 3 day weekend. I would love that, and so does she…more days to sleep in until noon or 1:00. Now that is typical. So many people…adults, anyway, use those weekends to do work Good friendsaround the home or yard…imagine that, not sleeping through the weekend. But I suppose that if I had a 3 day weekend every week, I might want to take one of the days to sleep until noon, if I could manage it, since sleeping in for me is 8:00.

College changes people to a large degree, but some things never really change. Siara is still that cute little niece I know and love. She is sweet and funny, and loves to laugh. Her smiling face brings sunshine into an otherwise cloudy day. I know she will continue to grow up and change, but it’s nice to know that some things will always stay the same…whether she is a college girl or a wife and mother. She will always be our Siara.

Jenny in straddle splitWhen my niece, Jenny was a little girl, she loved to dance and do gymnastics. She was a natural talent. Most people have a hard time with the splits, much less behind able to do the straddle splits, but Jenny took after her grandmother, my mom in that straddle split ability. As much as I loved gymnastics, the straddle splits, and pretty much the splits in general were simply beyond me. I could do the rest, but splits of any kind just hurt. Not Jenny, she was amazing.

Another thing Jenny has always been great at is dancing. She Belly Dancingdanced through her childhood and into her teens. When we had a teen dance club here, she and my daughter, Amy liked to go and dance there. But going out dancing isn’t the only way Jenny likes to dance. She likes to work out, and one of the ways she has done that is Zumba dancing. Zumba dancing is something I want to master, but so far, I think I have two left feet, so that will take a good deal of practice. Again, Jenny is a natural.

Another type of dancing that Jenny has taken up is belly dancing. She creates her own Crista and Jennycostumes, and they are beautiful. She is so graceful and beautiful. Being able to move like that takes a great deal of talent, and hours of practice. And yet, she also finds time to be a great mom to her three boys and now to her little girl. I’m sure that before long, Jenny and her daughter, Aleesia will be taking these classes together and quite likely Aleesia will follow in her mother’s dance steps and become a great dancer too. I’m sure that will be a wonderful thing for the two of them to share for years to come, because, once a dancer…always a dancer. Today is Jenny’s birthday. Happy birthday Jenny!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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